Engineering Disciplines

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Architecture –  Jameela Derrick

At the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, you’ll have a university experience unlike any other.  What’s that? There’s no campus, no residence, and no meal plan! Fear not dear first year, what we lack in the number of buildings and students (less than 300, including Masters student), is more than made up for in community and quality of facilities.

Though our “campus” consists of a single, three-storey, red brick building, it’s been stuffed with just about everything an architect-to-be needs: two lecture halls, workshop with digital fabrication lab, photography dark room, audio/visual lab, the Musagetes Architecture library, photo studio, Mac Lab, loft, and of course studio to name a few of the spaces you will be inhabiting daily.  The compact nature of the school and small student body lead to the intermingling of not only all undergraduate students, but Masters student’s as well.  After the first couple weeks, don’t be surprised if you know the names and faces of every person in the building, from the office administrators, to the library helpers, and the custodial staff, all of whom are friendly, helpful and accommodating.

Outside of school, Cambridge has a lot to offer: eat lunch on the patio of your new favourite bistro, skate on the year-round ice at the Cambridge centre before catching a flick, or canoe/kayak down the Grand River.  And don’t forget that main campus is just a free bus ride away, so get involved with intramural sports, clubs and Engineering social events like Semi-Formal, TalEng, Bus Push, Curling and EngPlay.

You’ve got the best of both worlds! So make sure you seize every oppourtunity to make an impression, a friend, and most importantly a memory.

Chemical Engineering – Erin Matheson – 2T Chemical

Hey first year Chemicals! You’re probably still wondering, ‘what exactly does a Chemical Engineer do anyways?’ Although the field as a whole has expanded greatly over the years, the core of Chemical Eng still revolves around finding a way to create a desired product, and then figuring out how to make it better!

In your 1A term four of your five courses will be the same as many other departments, such as civil, mechanical and environmental. These courses include calculus (MATH116), linear algebra (MATH 115), physics (PHYS115), and chemistry (CHE102). These courses are a bit of review from stuff you learned in grade 12, with a little bit extra added on. They make for a good introduction to university-level courses, and teach you a lot of the basics that you need to know for your upcoming terms. Finally, you have your concepts course (CHE100), which includes both a lecture and a lab component. Both the lecture and the lab will teach you the super-important basics of mass balances, energy balances, and engineering analysis that you’ll use time and time again in your future terms. Key thing to remember with balances is energy and mass cannot be created nor destroyed – what goes in must come out!

Finally, incase your science friends in residence ask, the major difference between chemistry and chemical engineering – chemical engineering involves much more analysis and mathematics and the use of computers to aide in designing processes. Chemical engineers don’t care so much about the core theory behind a process, but rather what it can do and how it can be used – we apply what the chemistry majors discover!

Remember to work hard and play harder, and the best of luck in first year!

Civil Engineering – Kristen Roberts  – 3B Civil

Lesson one:  Civils always win.  As you sit in your first class you will be surrounded by 100 fellow peers.  Out of them, there will be bunch who played with lego.  Many will be anxious, some excited and a few already stressed.
So what does your future hold? First term is about “levelling the playing field”.  It provides the academic foundation for later courses. Some of you may have an easier transition as you review concepts learned in high school.  The joy of being on 8-stream is that you will return in the winter.  Following that is your first co-op term.  Co-op is a great chance to put into practice what you’ve learned and it helps you figure out your specialty.
As you progress, there are numerous specializations to take advantage of. If you like playing with water, there are fluids and hydraulics courses waiting. Does LRT get your heart a-fluttering? Then you have transportation planning to look forward to.  Or maybe you are interested in the structural side to civil.  Whatever you’re into, there’s something for you.

Above all, make friends and have fun. Here are some key tips for success:

1) Don’t lose sleep over the PHYS 115 midterm.

2) The CIVE 125 course is quite interesting.  Listen to Bob and go to your Weef TA’s.  Also bring sunblock and water.

3) Get a good understanding of linear algebra (concepts will continue to pop up)
4) Stay active, eat healthy, and get sleep

5) Meet upper year Civils, they can prove to be a great resource
6) Get involved!  Whether part of a student design team (shameless plug for GNCTR), a sports team, EngSoc, IW or rez, it is key to balance work and play.
Best of luck and have an awesome frosh week!

Computer Engineering – Dominic Aquilina – 1T Computer

Computer Engineering is something special in the engineering faculty. We have a strong technical background in terms of electronics, circuitry but we’re also required to have a working knowledge of programming. In short, we do a little bit of everything, and quite frankly, we’re pretty darn good at it. This means that the job opportunities are plentiful. Comps tend to have the widest selection of jobs and the highest employment rates of any of the engineering types. First year jobs mainly include programming or quality assurance positions at lesser-known companies, as we lack the technical skills required to perform the more complex engineering tasks that the larger companies require. In upper years, however, we have arguably some of the best job positions available. Google, Facebook, Research In Motion, AMD, Intel – all regular posters of positions for Computer Engineers. That’s not to say that first years can’t get these positions, but it’s not very common, as they have a large number of applicants and a very good reputation, meaning they only accept the best. There are plenty of people available to look over your resumes, so make sure you take advantage of these services!
It’s not all about the jobs, though. Engineering is a lot of work, to be sure, but we work hard, and we play harder. There’s tons of stuff to get involved with, from EngSoc, to ResCouncil, etc, there’s so much fun to be had that you’re really missing out if you focus all on school! Personally, I was involved with ResCouncil, EngSoc, Intramurals, UW Gamers, Canada Day celebrations, Sigma Chi, and others. Busiest term of my life, but also more fun than I’ve ever had before. The more you give, the more you get, guys.
This is your time – make the most of it.

Electrical Engineering – Angelo Alaimo – 3N Electrical

Welcome Electricals to the University of Waterloo and to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)!

The computer and you will be mixed together for your first year both classes will be taking the same courses. You probably already know what courses you’re taking in your first term, calculus, programming, and your circuits course are the most important. Be sure to study them religiously! It’ll help you in upper years.

As you likely already know, Waterloo has a phenomenal co-op program. The job possibilities for Electricals are quite vast – from construction, power, and even software development. I implore you to look at all options presented to you on your job-search for your first co-op term. I can’t stress the importance of a good resume and cover letter enough, so be sure to check out the resume critiques in the first few weeks of school!

Apart from your studies, it’s a good idea to get involved with some extracurricular activities. Not only are they a great way to meet people, but extracurriculars allow you to practice your skills, and can make you more attractive to potential job recruiters. One can choose from many student teams such as the Midnight Sun, ASIC, UWAFT, Formula SAE, and others which currently have escaped my memory. If said teams are not your thing, get involved with Engsoc, Iron Warrior, or just anything that interests you!

Well that’s all for now, so enjoy your frosh week kids and once again – Welcome!

Environmental Engineering – Lisa Liu – 3N Environmental

Hello new environmental engineering students and welcome to Waterloo.

You are going to enjoy your next five years here and make some invaluable friendships in the class. Starting from day one we have the luxury of learning in a small classroom environment. 1A is going to be hard just like everyone says, but there are resources all around to help you pass and excel in your academics. The WEEF TA’s are always friendly and helpful, and the first year office will run study skill classes to teach everyone how to learn. Being stream 4, there is also the concern of coop job searches. While the 1A job search is always a challenge, historically the enviros do not have too difficult a time finding coop jobs.

Take advantage of all the resources around you such as Career Services and the resume critique sessions ran every term. What is most important about this program, however, are the friends you will make in the class who will stick by you through the rough patches in the next 5 years. Being in a small class gives every student an opportunity to form relationships with their classmates and perhaps make life-long friends. So go forth and experience all that this school and program will offer. After all, everybody else does ENVE us.

Geological Engineering – Cailin Hillier – 3N Geological

Geological Engineering is one awesome, rock-loving family. The Geo class sizes are typically smaller, which definitely allows for you to get to know everyone very well. It’s definitely a close nit group of students that will become your good friends over the course of your degree.

Geological Engineering itself is a combination of Earth Sciences and Civil Engineering. There are several different paths that this program can lead you. From subsurface structures like tunnelling or mine design in a more geotechnical side of thing, all of the way to river mechanics in the hydrogeology discipline, there is a wide variety to be discovered within this field.

One of the best parts of being in Geological Engineering are the many co-op opportunities that are available in this program. The chance to travel is definitely available. Geo Eng students have travelled from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, and as far north as Labrador City and even internationally for their co-op terms.

But now something a bit more relevant, your 1A term. Look forward to taking Chemistry, Linear Algebra, Physics, Calculus and the Engineering Concepts course which will help to get you all onto the same page by the time 1B rolls around. This Engineering Concepts course will introduce you the basics of AutoCAD, surveying and writing technical reports, a very important skill for the rest of your university and professional career. Some of the best courses that you will encounter in your first few terms are Earth Engineering, Geochemistry, Structural Geology, and Stratigraphy and Earth History.

So welcome to Geological Engineering at the University of Waterloo, your home away from home for the next 5 years.  Geo Rocks!

Nanotechnology Engineering – Anjali Gopal – 2A Nanotechnology

You’ve gone through the admissions process, you’ve survived the terrifying anxiety of waiting and waiting (.. and waiting), and now you’re finally in!  I can’t tell you if you’re going to love or hate this program, but I can tell you this: the curriculum is challenging; it is very diverse; but if you are passionate about innovation and research, Nanotechnology Engineering can be a very rewarding, and very enriching experience.

In your first year, the majority of your courses are general math and science. Nevertheless, here are a few academic milestones to look out for: although 1A is mostly review, your NE100 course (Introduction to Nanotech) will give you a taste of what future Nano-oriented courses are going to be like. In 1B (when the game really begins), you will have your very first lab sessions in your Organic Chemistry course. You will also start co-op hunting in 1B. Writing a few cover letters can go a long way to get you some interviews.

But don’t let all this srs bzns kill your buzz, first years! As part Nanotech, you will have access to amazing lab equipment and exciting research opportunities. Be sure to sign up for a few of the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology Engineering’s (“WIN”) seminars. WIN periodically invites professors from across the globe to talk about their groundbreaking research in the Nanotech field. In your second semester, you’ll also be able to view our fourth year students’ design projects.

To end off your welcome, I’d like to impart to you some of the wisdom my own class (2014, “Bottoms Up”) discovered in our first year: first, that knocking is the best form of flattery. Second, that, in Nanotech, NEthing is possible.

Management Engineering – Amanda Leduc – 3B Management

Welcome to Management Engineering! The single most useful and profitable engineering discipline ever created and also the first and only ManEng program in Canada!
You made a decision to enter ManEng because it looked interesting combining the analytical thinking skills from engineering with the financial skills from business and the programming and database skills from computer science. Those two things are true, but it’s much more than that. This degree will provide you with necessary technical knowledge required to understand many types of problems from manufacturing to economics and will also teach you to analyze and optimize these problems as an engineer. By now, you’ve also probably heard somebody say, “Management Engineering, that’s not a real engineering discipline”. Unfortunately, this sentiment is encountered, which leads one to wonder, what constitutes a real engineering program? Should it have critical thinking, problem solving, real world applications, a hefty amount of mathematics, a broad understanding of all engineering disciplines and the ability to improve society? These all seem like good things to have in a real engineering program and all of these things are covered in the ManEng curriculum … so I guess that settles the issue!
I greatly enjoy being part of the pioneer Management Engineering class and look forward to my final two years here. Our classes have one of engineering’s smallest class sizes and also has one of co-op’s highest employment rates. We work everywhere from hospitals, banks, and even facebook, so finding a job is easy and always interesting! I hope you enjoy your time here in Waterloo Engineering and that you get as much as you can out of the ManEng program.

Mechanical Engineering – Tim Bandura – 3B Mechanical

Hey! Congrats on getting into Mech! It’s a pretty broad program.  Almost anything you look at has a mechanical engineer involved in its production.

First year is focused on the basics. Chemistry and physics will just be slight extensions on your high school material. Linear algebra and calculus will give you the basics you’ll need later. Some of the material may seem dry or trivial (linear algebra can get really confusing) but don’t forget it! A lot of material will creep back in second and third year courses. Your first year concepts course (ME100) will take a lot of time, so budget accordingly. You can expect 4 or 5 assignments per week! ME100 will cover an introduction into graphics and the profession of engineering. A word of advice: Start your ME100 final report early! First year has a lot of assignments, but don’t despair! Just keep at it and you will be fine.

Second and third year definitely get a lot more interesting! You cover courses such as advanced mechanics and dynamics (more interesting physics!), thermodynamics (entropy is a tricky beast, but the rest isn’t bad), fluid mechanics (can be tricky, do the practice problems), and more calculus (you have five terms of it! But by 3A, it’s actually cool). Fourth year will let you pick your own technical electives, so you can specialize in thermo or fluids or machine design if you wanted to. Mechs will see a “hell week” for midterms in their second and third years. It’s actually quite deceptive. Although you have all your midterms in five days, you have no classes during that time. You’ll count yourself lucky when your friends are complaining about having class, midterms, assignments, and labs all at once!

A final couple words of advice: Please get out! You can’t always keep studying or doing work! Try and get some activity to help keep you sane. Also, talk to your profs and WEEF TA’s! They really do want you to succeed and the WEEF TA’s were in your shoes a couple of years ago. They know a lot. And finally: C is the new A! Your grades might slip a little, but don’t worry. The most important thing is that you’re here enjoying your time while getting an education to prep you for an amazing career.

Mechatronics Engineering – David Liu – 4A Mechatronics

Mechatronics Engineering is the integration of many other engineering programs. Throughout your program, you’ll be taking courses from Mechanical, Electrical, Computer and System Design Engineering. When I was in grade 12, I wanted to do Mech Eng. But after 4 years of Mechatronics, I know Electrical is more interesting for me. So for 4th year, you can choose from wide variety of technical elective courses that suits your interests. Also, you’ll have great co-op job opportunities as you can almost apply to all engineering postings!

Mechatronics is 4-stream only program; this means that 2B Mechatronics Class and 4A Mechatronics Class will be on campus with you. If you want to find out more about the program, get in touch with upper year students! My email is s14liu@uwaterloo.ca for any questions.

In terms of 1A courses, you will be taking linear algebra, calculus, chemistry, programming and a concept course. Very similar setup with other programs. One thing is that if you’re new to programing (C++), prepare to spend a lot time on Gene 121 – programming course. I know some people switched out of Mechatronics because of the programming courses, but it’s an essential skill. Especially, considering a large portion of coops are programming based, so now or never!

Keep in mind that these are the people that you will spend your next 4+ years with, so start getting to know your classmates by first names. MTE 100 concept courses are great place to form these connections!

Software Engineering – Michael Chang – 2A Software

If you’re the tl;dr type, remember: Sleep is good.

First, some house-keeping items:

As I write this, your class has two facebook groups. Join the active one, created by Elisa Lou. (Yay, Elisa!) Use Facebook to keep touch with classmates; official notices from the university are sent via email.

You have email accounts from student.cs and engmail; I also recommend also using mailservices (all .uwaterloo.ca). Officially, you should check each account every day; many students forward everything to one account. Gmail works with some caveats (you must send mail using GMail’s servers). When in doubt, Google Is Your Friend. (GIYF)

Spend time getting to know your fellow softies and new people outside of Software (e.g. friends in residence). When you witness tribalism between Math and Engineering, remember it’s meant to be good-natured competitive fun. Take a few chances this week – say hi to a pretty girl (or boy) you see in the foyer – everyone else is just as awkward and nervous as you are. Oh, and Charlie likes “the Wikipedia”, and insists on attending the first lecture before buying texts for a class.

Software focuses on Doing It Right for Big Projects. For the robots in SE101, my advice: Friends do not always make good group members, and avoid excessive use of methods in NQC. Strive to find balance between work and fun. Whatever you do, whether its writing for the Iron Warrior or mathNEWS, helping a cute girl/guy in AHS or AFM, playing StarCraft, or setting up btrfs as root on Ubuntu 10.10, spend leisure time in Waterloo so you’ll want to come back. Welcome to Waterloo – come say hi; I’d love to get to know you.

Systems Design Engineering – Myles Tan – 1T Chemical

What is Systems Design Engineering? Systems Design Engineering is a holistic and global approach…if you ask a SYDE student, the answer – if any – will be much simpler, but the main concept is to make things harder, better, faster, stronger. The 1A course load is a general introduction to main engineering concepts; it includes a graphics lab, calculus, physics, matrices, programming lecture and lab, and a SYDE intro course.

1B courses are an extension of what you’ve been working on in 1A. You’ll be taking calc, physics, linear algebra, human factors, and a digital circuits lecture and lab. It’s important to note that your physics and calculus  course content will not match the rest of your engineering classmates; you’ll be covering each other’s 1A course material in 1B.

As a Stream 4 program, SYDE students will be applying for jobs within weeks of arriving and starting class. The flexibility of Systems Design Engineering allows for a wide range of job opportunities within engineering. Most jobs on Jobmine will have Systems Design listed in addition to a specific stream of engineering, don’t be afraid to apply!

Due to the uniqueness of the program, Systems Design definitely has its own community within Waterloo Engineering, however at the end of the day they’re working towards the same degree and iron ring as everyone else. Each SYDE student will eventually come up with their definition of what the program is; first year is a great place to start.

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